Friday, March 4, 2011

West Point Lessons for Medicine: Duty Honor Doctor

Duty, Honor, Doctor                                      

West Point Teachings Applied to A Medical Career

West Point, formally known as The United States Military Academy (USMA), is one of the unique places on the planet.  It also is an institution that exists to develop leaders of character to serve this nation and its people.  As a graduate of West Point in 1968,  I served in the United States Army as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, a rotary wing aviator, instructor pilot, and maintenance officer in Viet Nam with the 45th Engineer Group Headquarters and in the "Big Red One" 1st Infantry Division as a small unit commander, rotary wing aviator and instructor pilot at Ft. Riley, KS.  I also earned my Airborne Wings from jump school at Ft. Benning, GA, Ranger tab from Ranger School based at Ft. Benning and Flight Wings from Rotary Wing Aviator School in TX and GA.  In these military experiences and continuing through Medical School at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Family Medicine Residency Training at The Hershey Medical Center of Penn State University,  and through 31 years as a Family Physician, I have applied principles and teachings from the Academy to help me to better serve and lead.  

Serving patients aligns well with the mission of the Academy, affording medical alumni an opportunity to better focus on the needs of the persons we serve in the context of their unique lives and situations.  In reflecting on those aspects of my experience at West Point and my continuing relationship with the Academy and its graduates, especially the members of the class of 1968, I have listed some of the important elements of West Point training that have influenced my career as a Family Physician.  After 160,000 plus patient encounters, I still employ daily the fruits of learnings gleaned from the elements and experiences in the following list.  Over the next few months (or years if I get too nostalgic), I (and maybe other USMA grads with medical careers) will expand on these elements for readers to perceive how medical graduates of USMA and other medical professionals may derive benefit from the teachings of The United States Military Academy at West Point.  Many will quickly notice how many of the teachings apply broadly to leaders and followers in other endeavors.

Duty, Honor, Country
The Long Gray Line
The Corps
The Cadet Honor Code
The Cadet Prayer
The Cadet Chapel(s)
Bugle Notes
The Cadet Glee Club
Guides and checklists
Gloom Period
More Repetition
More Teamwork
Planning and Organization
                Small Unit
                Larger Units

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